Longman writes in a rhythmic prose that evokes the steady passing of time. Shorn of frills, much is still communicated through that gentle lyricism: the actors find subtle humour, affection, and pride in the script. Yes, the world is desolate and unyielding, but a spirit of humanity and heart pierces through and makes for a moving piece of theatre.
Part of that is a result of some strong performances. The youngest of the siblings, Ria Zmitrowicz’s Becky is expressionless, absorbing each new tragedy with resilience and nerve. Yet she is playful, and her relationship with Guy Tree (Alec Secareanu), the stranger who is found wandering aimlessly, is poignant and heartfelt. Alex Austin as Ben, the older brother who has no desire to farm, and Rochenda Sandall as Anna, the unwavering figurehead of the family, are also nuanced and robust.
Dirt covers the stage and a skylight background with pastel hues marks the turning of the years. While visually compelling and offering a stark contrast, it also indexes the time as flashbacks occur. Occasionally it does drag, and parts of the script could be restructured. The apparent climax of the piece, a birthing of a new lamb, comes too early on and leaves the final few scenes without energy.
Still, Gundog is a bare and tender portrait of a family. One of the most moving moments is from the grandfather Mick, played by Alan Williams, who passes on wise advice to his grandchildren. Amidst such tragedy and such gloom, Gundog shows that there is a poetry in love that, however precarious, also offers hope.
|What||Gundog, Royal Court Theatre review|
|Where||Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
31 Jan 18 – 10 Mar 18, Monday - Saturday 19:45, Thursday and Saturday matinees 15:00
|Price||£12 - £25|
|Website||Click here for more information|